Used Aircraft Market Shows Signs of Better Days Ahead

by Carl Janssens, ASA
Vol. 23, No. 2, May 26, 2010

Finally, the pre-owned aircraft market moved in a positive direction in the first quarter of 2010. Late-model, large-cabin, long-range aircraft were selling at or better than values published in the Aircraft Bluebook.

External factors such as increased sales, a slight decline of available inventory and world market competition could all be considered causes for the improvement. Although this early indication of a slow recovery is in progress, it is too early to celebrate. Any positive sign going forward is far better than where the used aircraft market has been.

With the exception of the late-model, large-cabin class, most of the other business aircraft are not yet recovering in value. The good news is that values are showing more stability. Market activity is on the rise leaving a more optimistic perception that values are not exposed to the risks experienced in the last twenty months.

A couple considerations might be affecting values in the pre-owned aircraft market. The first is available credit for qualified buyers, and the second is the price of fuel. Part of the dilemma that played a major role in an injured economy was the lack of finance. Now, aircraft lenders are able to enable more transactions. This new reality will move the aircraft market into better days. At the same time, credit could indicate how aircraft values will rebound as elements of risks financial institutions are willing to take will have an indirect impact on value. Energy and the price of crude oil is the other factor that will impact further recovery. As long as there are no surprising jumps in the price of crude oil in a limited time frame, the aircraft market will be able to absorb the daily fluctuations in oil prices and prevent the cost of fuel from becoming a deterrent in this industry’s recovery.

Increased — 5
Decreased — 410
Stable — 462

As reported above, late-model, large-cabin aircraft are retaining value. Select Gulfstream G550s were up $1 million with the remainder of these aircraft holding steady in value. The Gulfstream G-V market remained unchanged. The G-IV values were off an average of $500,000. Bombardier Global Express and the Global 5000 also held steady while inventories for sale decreased. The Bombardier Lear 45 series was off $200,000 on average. The Cessna Citation Excel series was down an average of $200,000 as well. Light jets such as the Beech Premier were off an average of $200,000. The Hawker 400 was down $100,000. The Citation 525 was off slightly as well.

Increased — 55
Decreased — 86
Stable — 452

The ag market values improved slightly when compared to the previous quarter. Late-model Beechcraft King Airs remained stable. Earlier models generally also held on, though some models trended downward. Reduction in production for the King Air series might have some positive benefits. In time, limited production could cause limited inventories for sale in the pre-owned market, which would then cause values to strengthen. The Cessna Conquest was stable for yet another quarter. The Piper Meriden was down $50,000.

Increased — 29
Decreased — 103
Stable — 523

The Beech Baron family of piston twins achieved some slight gains in value. Early-model 58s were up slightly. Select Baron 55 models also experienced narrow gains. For the most part, however, decreases in value were slight but across the board. Cessna 310 values were down, and the Diamond Twin Star was off $10,000.

Increased — 311
Decreased — 267
Stable — 1909

Select ag planes generally made slight gains. Values of early-model Beech Bonanza A36s were up from the previous quarter. Late-model Cessna 172 Skyhawks and Cessna 206s reported slightly higher values for the summer release of Aircraft Bluebook. Commanders and Mooneys were generally off $5,000 to $10,000 when compared to the previous quarter. The majority of aircraft in this reporting segment remained stable.

Increased — 52
Decreased — 170
Stable — 809

The Enstrom F28/280 series improved slightly from the previous quarter. Compared to the previous quarter, select models of the Eurocopter Twin Star were off $100,000. The Bell 430 also declined an average of $300,000 from previous reported values. The Enstrom 480 was down $50,000. The helicopter segment remained stable for the most part.

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